Christmas in Victoria Photo by (Doug Clement Photography)

British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer has extended orders that ban gatherings and restrict several other types of activities until next year.

The province-wide restrictions imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic were first announced on November 19 and set to either expire or be extended on Monday, December 7.

At the live press briefing on Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the province’s decision to extend these restrictions past Christmas, New Years’ Eve and other holidays, until January 8, 2021.

See also: Asked and answered: Your questions about BC’s new COVID-19 restrictions

However Henry said drive-thru Christmas events (like light shows) and drive-in drop-off events (like toy drives) can still continue, provided patrons remain in their vehicles the entire time and there is a limit of 50 vehicles per event.

Community-based social gatherings or events remain suspended, including those with less than 50 people in controlled settings, until January 8.

More details about what the order entails can be found here.

Vaccines on the way

In good news, Henry announced that BC is set to receive the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week.

To begin with, the initial doses are ear-marked for seniors and long-term care residents who are most at-risk of serious illness.

Specialized containers containing dry ice and other mechanisms needed to safely store the vaccine will arrive in B.C. on Tuesday, December 8.

While this announcement signals a light at the end of the tunnel, Henry added that there will not be enough vaccines to immunize every British Columbian for several months.

The Ministry of Health will be announcing more details about their vaccine rollout plan later this week.

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